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Ugly face of power explored in Glastonbury’s party field

PUBLISHED: 12:24 24 June 2015 | UPDATED: 12:24 24 June 2015

Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset. Photo Matt Crossick/ PA

Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset. Photo Matt Crossick/ PA

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Older performers pretending to be part of a new political cult will try to indoctrinate young Glastonbury party-goers, as part of an immersive Arcola theatre project to engage people who do not traditionally take part in the arts.

Diego Benzoini, Ali Wright, Douglas Deans, Gaynor Thompson, Kate Green, James Rattee;, Nick Connaughton, Katherine Grube, Mieke de Wit, Andrea Francis at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston.Diego Benzoini, Ali Wright, Douglas Deans, Gaynor Thompson, Kate Green, James Rattee;, Nick Connaughton, Katherine Grube, Mieke de Wit, Andrea Francis at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston.

Performers pretending to be part of a new political cult will try to indoctrinate young Glastonbury party-goers, as part of an immersive theatre project to engage people who do not traditionally take part in the arts.

Half of the amateur actors in the Arcola Theatre’s immersive show are over 55, and have never before been to Glastonbury, let alone performed in its interactive theatrical Shangri-La field.

At the weekend they will join a team of 1,500 crew, performers and artists for a walk-around performance, handing out pamphlets promoting the nine rules of their new belief system called Gemeenshap – meaning society in Dutch.

They will also stage a more traditional performance depicting what goes on behind the doors of power in the Gemeenshap political structure, and how its leaders might make decisions.

A collaboration between Mieke de Wit of Laak-theater in The Hague and Nick Connaughton from the Arcola in Dalston’s Ashwin Street, the show explores how inequality affects our perceptions of power.

Both theatres are located on the fringes of institutions of power – The International Criminal Court in The Hague and The Stock Exchange in London – and the directors wanted to find out how each community viewed the institutions.

Mr Connaughton, creative engagement manager, said: “It takes a little bit of a turn. It starts out very positive but as with most institutions of power they have one face publicly and another face privately, it’s not all pretty there.

“The project was about how to get people involved who don’t traditionally take part in the arts and culture.

“It will be a surprise for the punters to see older performers in what is traditionally a young people’s party space. This was part of the attraction of Glastonbury – to surprise the audience and to open up the access so it’s not the usual suspects.

“You usually know who’s going to be performing in these kind of places and you don’t expect older actors.”

“We have been having discussions about touring the show, we would love to do the next incarnation of the project in the Hague and Hackney. It’s definitely on the cards.”


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